Stress and Eating

 
 
   
 We're home. No place to go. Too much TV to watch.  Lots of computer screen time. Kids are home from school.  Husbands are under spouses' feet 24 hours a day.  For many, the opposite is true.  Life is certainly different than we've ever seen it.  We could all manage this during a 1-week staycation and in fact, it would be wonderful.  But as one week turns to another and now a month, this is tough stuff.  This is Stress!
 
     For many, our jobs are either shut down or slowed down and concern over our finances looms daily.  Sure the stimulus check was nice, but without a steady income, this will go away quickly.  Unemployment benefits have been bolstered, but again, this is short term.  What if my company doesn't survive this?  This is Stress!
 
     We're concerned about catching this virus.  Would I be the one to have a minor case of the sniffles or would I be the one to go to the hospital and end up on a ventilator in the ICU with a 44% chance of making it?  We're concerned for our parents, our grandparents, our children, our extended family, our friends, and our co-workers.  This is Stress!
 
     OK, enough negative stuff.  We are all feeling the tension and stress.  What are we doing about it?   Well, we went to the supermarket and stocked up on a 2 week supply of food only to eat it in a week.  We also loaded up on chips, cookies, candy, baking goods, and comfort foods.  We had good intentions, but the meat and veggie selection was initially limited so donuts worked well instead.
 
     The weight gain perfect storm arrived.  Secluded in our house with too much food, too much time, and too much boredom we turn to food for relief.  This is the very definition of stress.  For a few, stress reduces eating, but for most the opposite is true.  Our minds are looking for comfort.  Boredom eating is a form of stress eating.  Add all the real stressors that are occurring and stress eating is running amuck.
 
     I get it.  It is a rare person, given the circumstances who can get on a weight-loss dietary regimen at this time and succeed.  But, It's possible.  I am telling many of my patients if they can take some control and get through this time and maintain their weight, they will be well-positioned to make a great run at getting lean when we come out on the other side.
 
     The last thing we want to do is beat ourselves up mentally and get depressed over our weight.  We have enough to think about besides being our own worst critic.  Get back to the basics.  Avoid the high-calorie snack foods, drink lots of water, get outside and walk within distancing parameters on nice days, and get enough rest.  Eat small portions throughout the day.  Log food intake and activity levels and journal your thoughts as we progress through this pandemic.  Your journal will be a great source of perspective and interest to our future grown-up grandchildren or the generation to come.
 
     We survived the great Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020 and our spirit and fight made us better on the other side.  Now is the time for lessons to be learned.  Not just by officials and governments, but by each and every one of us.  We can learn to live our best lives in times of turmoil and strife.  We have great inner strength within us all.  Fear happens, but bravery is facing life even though there is some fear within us.
 
     We can make small decisions every day that will positively impact our lives.  How we eat, what we do, the way we think and how we treat others are all manifestations of our character.  Sure, I'm a Family Doctor and a Weight Loss Physician, but helping people to lose weight and get healthy is a small part of what I can do to assist someone.  The same holds true for us all.  A helping hand, an extra smile, a phone call or video chat, a donation, or just being positive around others (socially distanced of course) will not only help someone else who might be struggling but will bring out the true nature of ourselves. 
 
     We are generally caring, kind, and pleasant people.  We thrive on being winners and overcoming obstacles.  We won't let a bit of stress eating get us down.  In fact, we will recognize it for what it is and beat it back day in and day out.  We will take control of any fears and think, plan, and ready ourselves for the biggest comeback in history.  Our body comeback, our attitude comeback, our financial comeback, and our nations comeback.  Now is the time to get ready and take control of the stress.  Breath deeply and move forward.
 
     When this all dies down and it will, we get to restart our lives.  Control of our thinking and our attitude now will propel us into our new beginning.  I look forward to seeing the vibrancy of each of us throughout the rest of this fight and on into a bright, hopeful, and of course healthier future.  

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